We are in the process of developing a Covenant for Life Together, an attempt to describe how we want to live, worship and work together as the body of Christ as guided by the Scriptures. It is a written document that says “This is the kind of community we are becoming.”
- The purpose of the CLFT is to strengthen our relationships with one another which helps us not only in our relationship with God but aids us in serving as a witness to a watching world.
- Having a more formal document allows us to have some common language as well as what we might call etiquette. It allows for the wide diversity of personalities that we cherish while pointing us to behaviors that will help us live together.
- We are called to live together and treat one another in ways that are remarkably different from the ways of the world and this helps us lay the foundation for doing so.
- It is not a new set of bylaws or doctrinal rules.
- It is not a set of rules for judging others or that we are punished for when we violate them, but a set of ideals that we seek to live by and when we fall short we seek understanding and recommitment.
Our Covenant For Life Together
As people reconciled to God and one another by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to live together and treat one another in ways that are remarkably different from the ways of the world.
Therefore, we enter into this covenant in a spirit of trust and love, promising to God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and ourselves to commit to a life of live, seeking to be ever in prayer and submission to the Holy Spirit.
By God’s grace I will live a life of love (John 13:34-35) in which:
We agree that our posture toward one another will be:
I will treat others as I would like to be treated, giving them respect and courtesy that our King expects of His children. (Matthew 7:12; John 13:34; Romans 12:10)
I will affirm all people, embracing them in love, offering grace without barriers, and building no partitions among the children of God. (Luke 14:12-14; Romans 15:7; Matthew 5:43-48; 2 Corinthians 5:16-17; Galatians 3:26-28)
I will value and affirm each person and their gifts, calling, and contribution as important and as a blessing from God to me and this community. (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 12)I will honor the presence and time of others will my full attention and respect.
I will forgive others as Jesus has forgiven me (Colossians 3:12-13; Ephesians 4:32)
Recognizing that I am a part of a community and that my choices affect others, I will strive to consider others in my choices and actions. (1 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 14:7; Ephesians 5:21)
I will put the needs of others before my own, living with the heart of a servant. (Ephesians 5:21; John 13:12-17)
I will commit to not only being inconvenienced, but to be willing to sacrifice my own wants, needs and agendas for the sake of the gospel. (Philippians 2:3-11; 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; 1 Corinthians 8; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Ephesians 6:7; 1 John 3:16; Romans 14:19-22)
I will make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the church so that there might not be divisions (Matthew 5:9; Ephesians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10)
I will discipline myself to actively listen to others, and to choose listening over anger. (James 1:19)
In word and deed, we will make positive investments in each others’ lives, intentionally blessing one another. (Hebrews 10:24-25; Ephesians 4:29)
We will encourage one another in faithful living, admonishing in love with humility as necessary. Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25)
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we will remember each other in prayer and aid each other in sickness and distress. (1 Peter 4:8-10; Galatians 6:10)
Humble and Approachable
Recognizing that all are sinners and are of diverse opinions, I will be willing to confess my faults and forgive others and will be patient and self-controlled with others, overlooking their faults when there are differences. (Romans 3:23; James 5:16; Romans 14:1-4)
I will not ask questions or make statements in a way that will intimidate or judge. (James 4:11- 12; Matthew 7:12)
I will speak truthfully to others, seeking to let the Spirit guide me. (Ephesians 4:15; 4:25)
We accept disagreement, conflict and evaluation as normal and natural.
Recognizing that our human understanding cannot fully grasp an unfathomable God and the profound truths of His Scripture, and acknowledging that we all struggle to be faithful to Jesus Christ, we seek to foster a safe and loving environment where differences may be addressed without fear of hostility, derision, or ostracism.
When conflicts arise, I will recognize that my relationship with God and my relationship with others cannot be separated. (Matthew 5:23-24; 1 John 2:10-11; 4:19-21)
I will seek to deal constructively with disagreements or conflicts. When I have been offended, I will not strike back. When I have done wrong, I will acknowledge my responsibility. I will pursue the ways of forgiveness and reconciliation, and, as Jesus taught, to do it as quickly as possible. (Matthew 18:15-17; Matthew 5:23-24)
I will strive to make my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, expressing criticism and negative feelings directly to the person with whom I disagree, refraining from gossip, and to seek reconciliation as far as possible. (Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 10:5)
When there are disagreements, I will not allow others to shift their responsibility to my shoulders, nor will I place my responsibility on others. I will involve others appropriately for the purposes of reconciliation. (Titus 3:2; Ephesians 4:31)
I will commit to believe the best about my brothers and sisters, to address and resolve past hurts, and to bear with one another’s limitations. (Matthew 18:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Ephesians 4:15)
We will go the extra mile to get through conflict to find understanding on the other side. (Ephesians 4:2; 1 Corinthians 13:5-7)
We will walk hand in hand though we do not see eye to eye. (Colossians 3:14-15)
What are your thoughts? Is this the kind of community of which you want to be a part? What challenges or opportunities do you see?